By Sports Reporter/Doha
More than 100 players from 33 countries will take part in the 33rd edition of the Qatar Open Amateur Golf Championship, which will be held at the Doha Golf Club on February 14, organisers announced yesterday. The three-day Individual Strokeplay tournament has added importance as its winner, top three Qatari players and top three professionals will get to match their skills with some of the best players on the European Tour’s Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, to be held from March 7. The local spotlight will be on 2017 runner-up Saleh al-Kaabi, Ali al-Shahrani and Jaham al-Kuwari.
“Undoubtedly, this is the strongest amateur tournament in the Middle East. With the event having a WAGR status, the competitors will be keen to collect maximum points and improve their rankings so as to qualify for the big events,” Qatar Golf Association (QGA) general secretary Fahad al-Naimi told a Press conference at the Doha Golf Club yesterday.
“This is one of the oldest tournaments in the region and since last year, the tournament has seen the participation of some of the best international professionals, and we have decided to increase the competitiveness of the tournament. This year’s tournament includes 22 professionals and 80 amateurs,” he said.
Last year, Pakistani teenager Ahmed Baig registered a one-shot victory ahead of Morocco’s Ayoub Omar. In the professional category, England’s Joshua White won while two-time winner on the European Tour Simon Khan finished second as Jean-Michel Hall came third, in an all English sweep in the pro category.
This is the second time professionals are participating in the tournament with the organising committee awarding the best three results from the professionals a spot in the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.
The four-day tournament will be held at the Doha Golf Club course with 138 top-ranked players in the world competing for the title in the 22nd edition of the tournament. Two-time Qatar Masters champion Paul Lawrie’s son Craig Lawrie will also be vying for the European Tour event slot.
The other professional players taking part in the tournament are Thomas Strandemo, Adrian Meronk, Guiraud Alexis, Mateusz Gradecki, Steven Troup, Niclas Johansson, Jordan Massey, Mike Elliott, David Moreland, Scott Puzey, Morgan Jackson, Rocco Sanjust, Victor Riu, Michael James Steyn, Darryl Gwilliam, Mike Toorop, Peter Erofejeff, Todd Clements, Anwar Ali, Jean-Michel Hall, Lucas Norman and Alfie Plant.
Qatari team players are coming into the championship with some good performances in the World, Asian, Arab and Gulf Championship. Talking about Qatar players’ chances in the tournament, QGA general manager Gary McGlinchey said: “I think it is a great opportunity for the local players. Saleh al-Kaabi is 4-under par this week and he is hard to beat.”
QGA executive director Mohamed Faisal al-Naimi and InterContinental Doha Hotel general manager Andreas Pfister were also present on the occasion. Royal Air Maroc, InterContinental Doha Hotel and AlKalive are the sponsors for the tournament.
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